Doll's defense attorney takes aim at evidence and questioning procedures
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 16, 2009 - 8:34pm
Scott Doll's defense attorney Paul Cambria spent the afternoon trying to build a case that shows any evidence or statements gathered by Sheriff's Office deputies or investigators should be inadmissible in his upcoming murder trial.
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman brought forward four witnesses -- a dispatcher, two deputies and an investigator -- to tell Judge Robert Noonan how they went about questioning Doll and gathering evidence the night in February when Joseph Benaquist was beaten to death in the driveway of his Pembroke home.
With Deputies James Holman, Patrick Reeves and Detective Kristopher Koutz, Cambria asked repeatedly about questions asked and evidence gathered prior to Doll being read his rights or actually being charged with murder.
About two hours after Doll was initially handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser, Doll was charged with trespass for parking his mother's red Ford van on the auto repair lot at Main Road. and Route 5 in Pembroke.
Judge Noonan won't rule on the motion until receiving written briefs from both sides in the case. That could take seven or eight weeks.
Cambria is seeking a rulling that would throw out any statements Doll made prior to being read his rights, as well as any evidence gathered before he was charged with killing Benaquist.
Deputy James Diehl was the first officer on scene. He said he found Doll wandering on the east side on North Lake Road. When he stopped, he said, Doll turned around and walked back toward the cruiser. Diehl exited his vehicle. He motioned, he said, at an object he could see in Doll's pocket, and Doll put his left hand in the air, then slowly grabbed the object -- possibly a lug wrench -- with two fingers and dropped it to the ground.
Diehl observed what he believed to be blood on the knees and thighs of the camouflage jumb suit Doll was wearing. Doll also had what appeared to Diehl to be blood on his sneakers and on his face.
Doll told Diehl he was out for a walk because the doctor had warned him he needed to reduce his heart rate and his cholesterol, Diehl testified.
Doll reportedly told Diehl that he was walking up to Gabby Road to a friend's house and Diehl asked Doll if he wanted a ride, and Doll said he did. Diehl asked Doll to sit in the back seat of the cruiser. Before getting in, Diehl said he told Doll he had leather seats and maybe he should let Diehl handle the lug wrench and jack Doll was carrying, and Doll agreed.
During questioning, Doll explained the blood on his clothing by saying that he butchered deer.
Diehl testified that he thought it was strange that Doll would be walking where he was on North Lake Road when he lives in Corfu, which has a much nicer village atmospher for a leisurely stroll.
The initial report of a suspecious person walking on North Lake Road came from an unidentified individual who apparently is a law enforcement official (he was identified in court by his call numbers only). This individual later pulled up in a dark pick up truck and spoke with Diehl.
It was after this person arrived that Diehl decided to handcuff and search Doll.
Diehl then drove Doll to the corner of Main Road and Route 5, where Doll said he had left his van.
"I didn't know what was going on with the blood on him," Diehl said. "I wanted to see what was in the van, pretty much, 'where did the blood come from?'"
Diehl found blood on the van, on the ground next to the van and a pair of bloody cloves on the hood of a car next to the van.
Cambria, in his cross examination, drew special attention to how cooperative Doll was throughout this initial contact, making no attempt to feel, cooperating with every request and doing nothing, it would appear, to make him a suspect in a major crime.
He also ensured Diehl testified that Diehl never read Doll his Miranda warning (you've heard it on Adam-12: "You have the right to remain silent, etc.").
Under cross, he also testified that at the time he discovered Doll and found all of the blood, that he didn't know if it was animal or human blood.
Cambria is also working to undercut the law enforcement case that Doll was legitimately questioned and detained because he allegedly trespassed on private property. With Diehl, as well as the subsequent witnesses, Cambria established that the property in question did not have a "no trespass" sign, was not marked "private property," did not have "no parking" signs, nor were there chains designed to keep vehicles out of the lot.
Doll was handcuffed in the back of the car for at least three hours before being transported to the Sheriff's Office on Park Road.
Benaquist's body wasn't found until 1:30 a.m.
The first back-up officer on scene, according Diehl, was Deputy Patrick Reeves.
Reeves apparently knows Doll and his family. He was very concerned, afraid even, he testified, that after seeing Doll covered in blood that Doll had harmed another person. Reeves initiated an effort to locate members of Doll's family and ensure they were safe and to see if they knew anything about why Doll was in the shape he was in.
Reeves recounted this line of questioning with Doll (which Cambria would later note took place before Doll was read his rights -- also, Reeves said that at this point, his heart was racing and he was getting scared about what might have happened):
"Tell me it's deer blood," Reeves said.
"Enough about the blood," Doll responded.
Doll then said, "Do what you've got to do."
"What would you want me to do?"
"What about an attorney?"
"Who do you want me to call?"
"I don't know. I guess my divorce attorney."
He also asked him at some point, "Is that human blood," and Doll responded, "I can't tell you that. You know me better than that."
He said at that point, he started trying to contact anybody who might know Doll and what might be going on.
"I was really scared that Mr. Doll would know who was seriously injured or even dead."
Later, back at the Sheriff's Office, Reeves tesified that he overheard Doll say, "I didn't do it," but Cambria drew out of Reeves that Reeves didn't make a note of that statement in his reports.
Next on the stand was Det. Kristopher Kautz, a 20-year veteran of the department.
The key portion of Kautz's testimony dealt with his decision to allow a friend of Doll's visit him in the interview room.
Doll's girlfriend and this friend, Teresa Zolakowitz (spelling not available at this time) arrived at the station at 3:30 a.m.
Kautz said he questioned the two women at some length without revealing that a body had been found, but neither women had any information that enlightened him as to the circumstances of the case.
At this point, Teresa was insistent that she be allowed to talk with Doll. Kautz said never previously in his career had he allowed such a think, but she was so persistent, he decided to let her into the room, provided she agree that he could be present and take notes of the entire conversation.
Later, during cross from Cambria, Kautz did say that he did not give Doll the option of not taking part in the personal meeting with Kautz present, though when informed of the woman coming he, Doll did not object.
Kautz recounted the following questions and answers:
"I was there, but didn't do it."
"Was something wrong at your pad?"
"Does this involve an animal?"
"Tell me there is no dead body."
"I can't do that."
After being allowed to review his notes, Kautz added that Doll also said, "Let the chips fall where they may," and "I'm going to be in jail for some time," and, "It's an open and shut case," and, "I will get what I deserve, I guess."
Again, Cambria noted that this conversation took place before Doll was read his rights.
On his final redirect, Friedman noted that DNA swabs were taken after Doll was charged with the crime, and that some key pieces of evidence -- such as the blood on his face and the bloody gloves -- needed to be properly secured before the evidence was lost or damaged, even though detectives had not yet determined what was going on.
After the hearing, I happened to overhear Doll say to a woman in the audience, "Be careful what you say. They will twist it out of context."